Thursday, 14 December 2017


Up Now in London

Combining Materials @ Rosenfeld Porcini
37 Rathbone Street - Fitzrovia 

To 10 Feb

Combining Materials @ Rosenfeld Porcini
37 Rathbone Street - Fitzrovia 

To 10 Feb

Keita Miyazaki:Collision of Species, 2017 - car parts, felt, paper, stainless steel, speaker system 155x110x78cm

This show puts forward a neat theme – the surprising combination of materials – and makes a stimulating choice of artists who use that approach for their own interesting reasons. Keita Miyazaki provides the ideal start by reconciling discarded car engines with paper folded origami-style. Continuing with tough meets fragile, Brazilian Túlio Pinto balances rock against glass with elegant drama. Felicity Hammond melds metal and concrete with photography. Alice Cattaneo’s glass and wood wall sculptures function a little like paintings, whereas Jane Bustin’s paintings edge towards sculpture with limewood, chiffon, crystal and copper included in Fluorite, 2017. And Leonardo Drew, the most established artist here, fixes large chunks of wood and mis-shapes of aluminium onto heavy paper.

Túlio Pinto:Complicity # 14, 2017 -steel beams and blown glass
Hans KotterPoint of View @ Patrick Heide Contemporary 

Art,11 Church St - Marylebone

To 13 Jan

Installation view (photo Marcus Leith)

The gallery is celebrating its tenth year with a substantial and attractive book which reveals how Patrick came to sign up each of the  33 artists he has represented, and builds to an account of how they have taken his underlying preference for the language of abstract drawing in innovative and consistently delicate directions. The German post-Zero artist Hans Kotter is on to his fourth solo show. He draws with light, and impresses with the range of ways in which he transforms his works’ immediate environments through colour changes, illusions of depth and cyclical movement. There’s also some gentle humour in Practicing (Diptych), not a note I recall from before, and the chance to learn what a cuboctahedron looks like.    

Practicing (Diptych), 2016-17


Tony Matelli: Past-Life @ Marlborough Contemporary, 6 Albemarle Street - Central

To Dec 22

Woman in the Wind, 2017 - marble and painted bronze

Jasper Johns may be the subtlest investigator of the differences between art and life (see the Royal Academy) and Giorgio de Chirico the most atmospheric combiner of classical and modern (see Tornabuoni and Namhad Projects) , but Tony Matelli acts as an inheritor of aspects of both with his  found statuary aged by sandblasting, truncation and patination, topped with contrastingly perishable items, such as fruit, made  permanent in painted bronze and cast glass to yield a  striking new twist on the vanitas theme. Back stage, in the office, you'll find Matelli's best-known stream of work - a bronze weed - and what looks like a dusty mirror, riffing further on apparent age and insignificance.

Reclining Figure, 2017 - marble and painted bronze

Giorgio de Chirico: Getafisica da Giardino @ Nahmad Projects, 2 Cork St and  Reading de Chirico @ Tornabuoni Art, 46 Albemarle St - Central

To 15 Dec (Nahmad) / 10 Jan (Tornabuoni)

Sun and Moon, 1972
Happy times if , like me, you like all phases of de Chirico. Nahmad has the odder of two substantial shows, for which Francesco Vezzoli installs paintings against a wallpaper background of de Chirico motifs, complete with astroturf floor. There are 18 de Chirico’s: first run 1920’s classics, later ‘self-copies’ of the same subjects, some misdated by the artist (can you forge yourself? Discuss), self-portraits in his ‘old master’ style… and an ante-room full of the little-known late motif of the sun as a character which can, for example, sit on a chair. Vezzoli contributes three works: paintings which vary de Chrico’s originals in appropriate spirit, and a classical torso to which he has added a de Chirico head à la tailor’s dummy.  Great fun, and well complemented by the more scholarly presentation of 25 de Chirico's at Tornabuoni.

Installation view at Nahmad Projects


Marie Harnett: Still @ Alan Cristea Gallery, 43 Pall Mall – Central

To 6 Jan

Marie Harnett with the linocut Grief, 2017

Here Marie Harnett, known for her ravishingly detailed small drawings of films, extends her scale and material scope and the ways in which production and cinematic times relate. The frozen moment images are - still - all taken from film trailers, Harnett preferring not to have her choices influenced by the whole movie’s narrative, but the graphite works range from postage stamp to cinema screen sizes. They include Picabaesque  ‘overlap drawings’ (as below), taken from frames in which one scene cuts to another; and some extensive abstract passages. She’s also made large linocuts which use curved lines, suggesting fingerprints on celluloid filmstrips held up for inspection: they look like plenty of work, so it’s bracing to learn that a 15 x 10cm drawing takes her as long as cutting a two square metre triptych. The artist also reveals  not her hand but her sources’ hands in the short film (or is a trailer?) ‘Hands’, collaged from – you guessed it – film trailers. 

Allerdale Hall, 2016 - Pencil on paper, 8 x 15cm


Drift @ JGM Gallery, 24 Howie St – Battersea

To 20 Jan 

Phillip Hunt: Paperjet 4, 1999-2018

Niko Kos Earle pulls off a refreshingly ambitious show in JGM's sparkling new space: very big work brought in from across the world, united by an abstract intensity bordering on the spiritual, and by how the four artists have – in the titular theme – drifted around the world, between ways of being, and into different materials.  It hangs together beautifully as, for example,  Lluís Lleó, just returned to Spain from  America, achieves a monumental delicacy on paper; Suki Jobson repurposes old dresses discovered in her Irish birthplace; Anglo-New Zealander Simon energises architectural from with implied movement; and  Cape Cod based Phillip Hunt revisits work he made in South Africa last century to intoxicating effect *. 

Simon Allison: Spin Cycle and Debris, 2016 

* bias alert: I helped a little with the show - you can see a fuller account of it here


Marc Vaux | The Edge and Beyond - constructed works 1977 - 2017 @ Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 28 Duke Street St. James's - Central

To 21st December

Cube 1, 2006: powder coated aluminium, glass, hand-painted wood, 22 x 22 x 22cm
There's a twist in the tail of this 40 work retrospective survey. For the last quarter century of his production, Josef Albers (1888-1976) pretty much painted just squares. Marc Vaux, a consummate painter-maker, focused primarily on the square for forty years from the mid-sixties, exploring in particular how vari-colouring the edge of a white square and / or taking it towards three-dimensionality affect its light and space. This decade though, Vaux has gone beyond Albers by turning towards the oval. He says he wanted something which didn't operate on the horizontal and vertical, and neither was it symmetrical. Add that the oval can look quite different when its proportions are changed, can be tilted interestingly, and has links to natural and human forms, and the new direction he has taken into his eighties of his 80’s became clear.
Untitled, 2017: Mixed media with acrylic, 30 x 50 x 15 cm 


Hiroshi Sugimoto: Snow White @ Marian Goodman Gallery, 5-8 Lower John St - Soho

To 22 Dec

Union City Drive-In, Union City, 1993

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs of movie theatres taken over the full course of a screening so that – typically - 170,000 images coalesce to form a white screen, tick enough conceptual boxes (time, absence, abstraction…) to have become a staple of themed group shows. But what is gained by seeing 20 of them together? Plenty, as it turns out: the shadowed detail around the screen is captivating in large format, and varies considerably between the sub-subjects here: still operative cinemas; abandoned theatres in which Sugimoto reintroduced a screen and projected a film to take his photograph; drive-in screens; and Italian opera houses – architectural inspiration for the American theatres which Sugimoto first started filming in 1976 - for which the film is typically projected onto the stage curtains.

Paramount Theater, Newark, 2015


Florence Peake: Rite @ Studio Leigh, 6 Garden Walk – Shoreditch

To 16 Dec

Still from Rite

Studio Leigh’s first show across the road from its former space sees dancer-artist Florence Peake draw multi-formed multi-collaborative inspiration from the Rite of Spring. Little of  the music is heard, but the centrepiece is a film in which Rosemary Lee, shot from a dramatic overhead view, battles her way out from under a bed of wet clay to the internalised sound of Stravinsky’s score, expiring after 14 minutes of dancing herself into birth and then, as in the ballet, to death. That floor has been cut into a grid and fired to make a performative sculpture. Peake herself has danced Rite-rhythmed body drawings - onto oil-primed paper and a plywood board with sand and plaster -  and made half-cairn, half-human sculptures tapping into the primitive forces of the Rite. The elements come together to make an visceral and active composition.


Installation view with The Ancestors and Spring Rounds (on wall)


XVII: The Age of Nymphs @ Mimosa House, 12 Princes Street - Oxford Circus

To 13 Jan

Upper installation view with Nika Neelova, Folded Rooms, perimeter of studio traced in stainless steel and wax and folded, 2017 -  Photo: Damian Griffiths

A surprisingly extensive and central new project space makes the most of its unusual set-up here through a Russian-oriented show  which has an underworld, a transitional corridor and a more ethereal upper zone, all tied in to the number 17 – as in the anniversary of 1917’ revolution, the number of years Putin has been in power, and the time cicadas spend underground prior to their ‘resurrection’ for a month of mating. Olga Grotova’s films hook us into the cyclic calm of nuns who look as if they’ve stepped out of a Helmut Newton photo; Nika Neelova turns the topography of a shucked-off exoskeleton hanging below into a coolly folded room above; Yelena Popova provides both apparently evaporated portraits, as from the deep past, and an empty cut-out awaiting future faces; undeterred by their lack of tymbals to flex and wings to flick, Neelova and Mira Calix team up to imitate both male and female cicadas in the corridor, crossing sex and species boundaries and referencing the mythical transformation of people into the insects when first introduced to and overpowered by music. Does it all cohere? I’m not sure, but it’s certainly worth the pondering. 

Lower installation view with Olga Grotova, The Ice Rink, video, sound, 11’40, 2017 and Nika Neelova, Exuviae, 2017 - Photo: Damian Griffiths.


Tom Wesselmann: Bedroom Paintings @ Gagosian Davies Street & Tom Wesselmann @ Almine Rech, Grosvenor Hill - Mayfair

To Dec 16
Bedroom Painting #21, 1969-1975

I guess one thinks of breasts  for Tom Wesselmann's pictures of body elements, but hands and feet star in the Gagosian half of this double-bill. In the oval Bedroom Painting #21, you might think they are set against abstract elements, but that radical black centre is a curtain, overlapping a green blind, allowing a slither of landscape; and we see yellow flowers, a section of purple wall and a light switch. And if you find it a little cold in its rigorous, formal, implicitly sexual organisation – what are these, adverts for parts of women? - then there’s a warmer, more intimate feel to the complementary show of later work in Almine Rech’s newly-opened basement space, All include the face, such as this mother and baby study, which flowed into a shaped canvas of 1979-91.  

Study for Barbara and Baby, 1979

Nature Morte @ Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard - City of London

To 2 April 2018, £8:

Caroline McCarthy: Vanitas, 2007

The large but little known Guildhall Art Gallery has a significant collection of Victorian paintings, currently complemented by and integrated with over 100 contemporary still lives. They provide new spins on flora, vanitas, food and domestic objects in a show – organised by Peckham's MOCA – which toured the world three years before arriving in London. You'll find, Andro Semeiko's 1.5m square  "Very big chocolate cake", a tribute to potential excess, more healthily topped by a 2 m high painting of cherries by Martin Gustavsson; and library of woodland books by Conrad Bakker; a Fright Wig made from household dust by Paul Hazelton; Caroline McCarthy's image of a skull made from Ben-Day dots punched out of a binbag hung next to it, waste to waste; and two classic Fantin-Latour florals – while both Philip Pirolo and Michael Petry (also the lead curator) make striking works which equate flower and anus.

Michael Petry: Red Roses, 2009 - one of three blown glass and cut flower arrangements in which the rim of the vase is taken from online submission  of anus shapes, and  each flower choice  represents a man's sexual preferences via the 1970's gay hanky colour code. 


Images courtesy / copyright the relevant artists and galleries 


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About Me

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Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09) and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.